At the flag-raising session of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on the evening of February 4th, live TV caught Premier Li Keqiang’s blanked-out moment. 

As the flag is raised, everyone turns to the right, at least halfway towards the direction of the flag. However, images show Li Keqiang was looking straight ahead with his body upright. He did not engage in the event. People in China commented that Li Keqiang did a “laying flat” in public. 

Laying flat is a term used in China to show people’s frustration with their hard lives and their decision not to do anything because of stress. 

A blank stare was not serious until Zhang Yimou read a deadly choice of verse on the live broadcast.

Professor Zhang Tianliang, a commentator on current affairs, pointed out that Zhang Yimou misread the poem and misused the image of Yanshan Snow. 

When CCTV broadcasted the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, the host quoted Li Bai’s verse, “The snowflakes in Yanshan are as big as the seats, and the pieces blow off the Xuanyuan Terrace.” 

This poem comes from Li Bai’s “The Wind in the North. ” It expresses that the wife misses her husband who died in the border crossing. She feels unfortunate and indignant. The poem then describes a husband killed in battle at the border with his bones exposed in the wilderness, and nobody is there to bury his body. 

She hoped that the snowflakes in Yanshan could cover her husband’s body. 

So the poem is sorrowful and full of grief. The snow of Yanshan was quoted a lot to express grief and sadness for the lost one. 

The headline of the People’s Daily used the title “It’s So Beautiful, the Bird’s Nest Staged: ‘Yanshan snowflakes are as big as a seat.'” 

In rough translation, CCTV means that the snow beautifully formed a seating area for the stage. 

That turns out to be: “It’s so beautiful, the snowflakes on Yanshan in the bird’s nest can cover dead bodies. 

People’s Daily, CCTV staff, and Zhang Yimou did not misread the poem but repeated it many times. 

On February 5th, Xinhua News Agency published an exclusive interview with Zhang Yimou. Zhang Yimou said that the opening ceremony told a story of snowflakes. Snowflakes ran through the opening ceremony, including snowflakes of different shapes, forming a “Snowflake as giant as Yanshan Mountain—a Seating landscape. 

The Dazhong Daily, the official newspaper of the Shandong Provincial Committee, a party’s media, explained their choices to the audiences in China. However, it is not convincing enough to calm down the public discussion. 

The poem “North Wind” in the “Book of Songs” said at the beginning, “The north wind is cold, the rain and snow are full of scorpions. Help me and walk hand in hand.” People recite the poem and compare it to the current stage of the Communist Party. 

An online comment said that Zhang Yimou’s speech was about the Communist Party’s ship sinking and the CCP officials fleeing one after another.

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